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PhD Research

LUCA School of Arts
KU Leuven 




How are insights gained with people with dementia transferred to other designers, through the use of design approaches, tools and artefacts? 

Literature indicates that an empathic understanding for the user-group is a necessary quality to design products that meet user-needs. In order for designers to gain an empathic understanding it’s widely advised to involve people with dementia in the design process. By involving people with dementia, designers can have direct contact with the user group and establish a designer-user relation in order to relate to the users daily life and why certain experiences are important to them, instead of just knowing about PwD. Direct contact is seen as “a prime and irreplaceable source for obtaining empathy with users'' resulting in more successful products and fully in line with the ideological fundament of participatory design to give a voice to the user, even when this user is vulnerable, as is the case with people with dementia.

But is participatory design always feasible? In order to build an empathetic understanding for people with dementia, one needs to fully immerse oneself in the life of a person with dementia in order to build a designer-user relation. This relation takes time and demands effort from the designer (e.g. impairments of dementia, participants who over time become too fragile to participate). However, investments in time and resources are often limited in most design projects. In addition it’s not recommended nor desirable that all team members take the time to have these interactions (e.g. the vulnerability of people with dementia, a lack of empathy of the designer, Covid-19 regulations). 

Although the inclusion of the design-team in participatory design with people with dementia should always be considered, this research provides design-teams with artifacts, tools and approaches to transfer an empathic understanding for PwD, for when it’s challenging for the entire team to have direct contact with people with dementia. Such artifacts, tools and approaches will not only guide the design-team by offering a practical and accessible process, but also enable individual members of the design-team to be empathic and committed towards the people with dementia they’re designing for. By taking into mind issues and challenges for the field of participatory design (e.g. lack of resources in design projects, the vulnerability of people with dementia, Covid-regulations), the development of ways to transfer empathy towards the user-group, normally acquired during direct contact, contributes to the practice of participatory design and to the accessibility of designing for people with dementia in general. 

For more information: PROJECT TIMELINE


March-April 2023: DMNT Expo - LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE



Nov 2023: Paper presentation - Senses & Sensibility conference, Malaga, ES

Oct 2023: Paper presentation - IASDR conference, Milaan, IT
Mar-Jun 2023: Expo DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE
Oct 2022: Workshop DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE
Jun 2022: Workshop DMNT - Fontys Hogeschool, Eindhoven, NL
August 2022: Doctoral Colloqium - PDC Conference, Newcastle, UK

June 2022: PhD event - DRS Conference, Bilboa, ES

Mar-Apr 2022: Workshops 'Material Speculations' - PLINTH, LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE
Nov 2021: Doctoral consortium - IASDR Conference, Hong Kong, HK
Nov 2021: Workshop
DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Gent, BE
Sep 2021: Doctoral consortium - CA²RE Conference, Ljubljana, SI

Aug 2021: Doctoral consortium - Nordes Design Research Conference, Kolding, DK
March 2021: Workshop (Re)designing for people with dementia - TU/e, Eindhoven, NL
Feb 2021: Workshop
DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE
Jan 2021: Workshop Re-design for the moments in-between - Dementia Lab Conference, Vancouver, CA
Dec 2020: Workshop - By Design or by Disaster Conference, Bolzano, IT
Nov 2020: Workshop
DMNT - University of Minho, Braga, PT
Oct 2020: Workshop
DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Gent, BE

Oct 2020: Workshop DMNT - LUCA School of Arts, Genk, BE

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